Liver disease is serious and requires treatment and regular monitoring by a liver specialist.
A liver specialist is known as a hepatologist and you need to be referred by your family doctor or general practitioner. Over nearly 40 years of practicing medicine I have seen many patients develop severe liver disease, which sadly could have been prevented by early detection and early referral to a hepatologist. There needs to be more awareness of liver disease so that patients can be treated early so that we can prevent cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Make sure you have your liver function checked annually with a blood test.
I have presented my ideas on how to help those with liver diseases using nutritional medicine, which I have been using for many years with good success rates. However my recommendations do not replace the care of your own doctor and you should remain under the care of your own doctor whilst using nutritional therapies.
If you have any questions you may contact my naturopaths on 623 3343232 or email us at [email protected]
What are liver spots?
Liver spots are medically termed 'Lentigos" and also known as age spots. They are sharply defined light brown to black flat patches of skin that appear on the face, back of the hands and other areas of the body; they look somewhat like a large freckle. They vary in size.
Who is most at risk of developing these spots?
The spots most commonly develop in people of middle age and older. They are more common in people who have spent a lot of time in the sun.
What causes liver spots?
The spots are brought out by exposure to the sun. People with liver dysfunction may form liver spots. The color is due to pigments within the epidermis (top skin layer) cells.
Many people have a hereditary predisposition to develop liver spots. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that start a domino type effect leading to damage of cellular components such as DNA. Over time this can lead to many conditions attributable to cellular damage such as skin conditions including liver spots.
What can be done about these liver spots?
As sun exposure plays a role in the development of liver spots, it is advisable to avoid excessive exposure to the sun and becoming sunburnt. Cover up when outside and use a good quality sunscreen.
Improving the liver function is important to prevent and manage skin conditions of any description including liver spots, as the liver is the major filter of the blood, clearing it of toxins that can build up in the system and create free radicals which promote cell damage in the skin.
The key to keeping free radical production to a minimum is to consume foods and supplements rich in "antioxidants". These are molecules that in effect put a halt on the destructive 'domino' effect of the free radicals.
Are these liver spots dangerous?
These lesions are classed as 'benign" or non cancerous. They are generally harmless and painless. The main effect is cosmetic - this may cause some distress. Occasionally a person may develop 'keratosis' which looks very similar to a liver spot. Keratosis is a scaly red lesion. It is recommended that all people with dark freckles, moles or liver spots should have a skin examination yearly.
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The recommended juices from Dr Cabot's [products]1012-Raw Juices Can Save Your Life book[/products] are:
- "Skin Problems Juice"
- "Liver Cleansing" or Liver tonic" juices
Supplements to Support Liver Function
Take 2 capsules twice daily with meals. A specific liver tonic which contains a high dose of the herb Milk Thistle with a high standardized concentration of the active ingredient silymarin. This liver tonic would also contain additional supporting nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Take 1 capsule daily. Selenomune contains 200 mcg of organic selenium combined with high doses of other immune boosting minerals per capsule.
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Take 1 teaspoon daily. MSM (Methyl-Sulphonyl-Methane) is an organic form of the mineral sulfur. Sulfur is a vital component of healthy bile. Sulfur is needed to produce the powerful liver antioxidant called glutathione. Vitamin C will neutralize free radicals generated during the phase 1 detoxification pathway in the liver. Toxic chemicals are far less dangerous if there is plenty of vitamin C in the liver.
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Take 1 capsule daily with food. Vitamin E is required to protect cell membranes from free radical damage and may reduce the formation of liver spots in the skin. Make sure you use vitamin E supplements which are natural (d-alpha-tocopherol); synthetic forms (dl-alpha-tocopherol) are derived from petrochemicals and are not well utilised by the body.
Other supplements that may assist
- [products]99914-Hair skin and nail supplement[/products] A formula containing nutrients specifically to promote the health of the hair, skin and nails. Ingredients include: Biotin for strong nails, folic acid, Inositol, Siberian ginseng to promote circulation to the hair and skin.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
Traditional treatments include laser surgery, or destruction with mild acid solutions or freezing the lesion - this would cause some damage to the surrounding skin. Modern use of lasers can effectively remove the spots without damaging the surrounding skin. Lasers work to selectively remove the pigment containing cells of each lesion. They require no anesthesia.
Dear Dr Cabot,
I am 56 years old and went through menopause 4 years ago. My biggest problem is that I am developing brown blotches on my face and hands, which is disappointing as I have always used a sun block and good quality creams. I am also a little fat around my middle and feel nauseated in the mornings or if I eat rich foods. My doctor told me that these symptoms were due to menopause and getting older. Indeed he called my brown spots and blotches "cemetery flowers " which horrified me. Please help me as I am losing my self-esteem and I did not think menopause caused these problems. I certainly do not feel like an old lady!
Well perhaps you should suggest to you doctor that he should take a course in how to improve his bedside manner! You are correct in saying that menopause does not cause these problems and indeed you are complaining of symptoms of a dysfunctional liver. Laser therapy can reduce them, as can special creams containing fruit acids and/or retinoic acid. You should consult a top plastic surgeon about the best brands of these creams. Most importantly you should concentrate on preventing more of these spots/blotches from coming which means we will need to improve your liver function. Once we cleanse and heal the liver, one could say rejuvenate the liver, then your skin will be rejuvenated and the brown spots should gradually fade and stop developing.